9/27/2007

Women in Ministry -- How're we doin?

I wonder what the percentage of Wesleyan pastors are women? I need to find out since I just went on the board of the new Center for Women in Ministry located on the SWU campus. What is our percentage? 1%? One tenth of a percent? I don't know and I need to find out.

I do know there are LOTS more women preparing for ministry. I have them in my classes. They are gifted and called. Of course I know that fewer women (and men) make it into the ministry than study as CM majors. But I wish I knew the percentage.

It seems like the United Methodists have lots of women ministers. I did hear (thanks to sharp reader Wes McCallum who told me this) that 25% of United Methodist Bishops worldwide are women. That's pretty good. I'd like it if 33% of our General Superintendents were women by 2008.

But the Methodists have fewer women pastors than I thought... just 7% worldwide. However that is up from 5% in 2003. It probably will change more in the future since half of all enrolled students seeking ordination in United Methodist seminaries are women.
LATER ADDITION FROM UM MINISTER & PROFESSOR CONSTANCE CHERRY FROM UM WEBSITE (USA numbers only)
Women, who have long supported and strengthened the mission of The United Methodist Church, are stepping into the pulpit in ever greater numbers. The number of clergywomen who serve the church has seen a dramatic increase at every level, from local pastors to bishops. As of December 2006, nearly 10,000 United Methodist clergywomen made up about 27 percent of the church’s total active clergy. That is up from just 15.8 percent in 1995.
Clergywomen represent 21.5 percent of more than 26,000 pastors-in-charge, but only about 1 percent of senior clergy in churches with 1,000-plus members are women, compared to 6 percent for men. About 15 percent of female elders are district superintendents, and more than 1,000 are racial-ethnic. The UMC was the first mainline Christian denomination to have a woman bishop, and in total, has elected 21 women bishops, 16 of whom are active.
According to the Association of Theological Schools’ 2002-2003 Fact Book on Theological Education, the number of women seeking seminary degrees more than tripled between 2002 and 2003, from about 10,000 to almost 32,000 (31 percent of all students). In 1995, the total was only 7,602. In the 13 United Methodist theological schools, women enrolled in master’s programs in fall 2002 totaled 1,442 (52 percent), compared to 1,270 men (48 percent).


Less than half of IWU ministerial students are women. Those we have are wonderfully gifted , but they are less than half. I don't know that number either. I need to find out though if I'm going to serve on this board.

I am strongly in favor of men and women who hear God's call to actually enter the ministry. I don't think X or Y chromosones are a reason to block people from responding to God's call. I'm glad Wesleyans are willing to ordain women--even though it is harder for them to find jobs still. If Wesleyans didn't ordain women I'd have to tell all these gifted Wesleyan young women to switch denominations--after all it is better to obey God than be submissive to men with hang-ups about women preachers.

I'm proud of the Wesleyan women ministers I know... here are just a few of them and their stories...These are the women ministers I'm thinking of while writing this...

* A wesleyan young woman with a strong call to ministry who was told by her home church pastor in INdiana (after several years as a CM major at IWU), "I don't believe females should be ordianed." She was rattled by her mentor's attitude. But after a year of studying the issue embraced her call and now is in seminary

* A wesleyan female with a call is studying at college but some male students told her that her call was invalid because she was a female--she droped out of school for a year and returned home to her home church but fell under the influence of an amazing woman youth pastor and God reconfiemed her call and she returned to finish."

*A woman who graduated with a call to ministry and married a guy with a similar call. Her husband abandond his call and she now wonders what to do .

* A woman who testified to a call and married a minister and went to seminary and togeter are now planting an inner city church as co-pastors.

* A woman who secretly felt called to the ministry graduated from IWU but nobody ever prompted her with the sort of comments guys get: "Have you heard a call to ministry--you really have the gifts and graces for it?" She went through IWU so rarely hearing a an ordained woman preach in chapel that she left the call latent and only later when she saw an abudance of women ministers did she embrace her claling and is now ordained in The Wesleyan Church.

* A women who was a Psychology major and "sort of" sensed a call but never embraced it, she married a minister but later on sensed her call fully, took a full time minister's job in two different Wesleyan Churches, and is nowordained and finishing up seminary with her husband.

* A woman who never seemed to waver in her call, studied hard, graduated and now is a leder of a huge and effective youth ministry in a Wesleyan Church. She will one dayu be a General Superintendent, a DS or large church pastor... no doubt.

* A woman who was an academic Dean who heard her call to the ministry in middle ages and is now pastoring and making up courses through Flame etc--though she already has a Phd.

* A women social worker who was married to a minister and heard (or accepted) her call later in life then did her courses, got ordained and probably will be elected General Superintendent in 2008, giving us 33% women General Superintendents--more then the Methodists!

23 comments:

Chris said...

Certainly, we have not been as egalitarian in practice as we have been in theory. Where do we go from here? Are you in favor of some sort of affirmative action to place women in leadership roles? Or should the position always go to the best qualified person, regardless of their gender?

Anonymous said...

The reason why women are not accepted into ministry, is because despite folks like Drury who attempt to convince us otherwise, many of us refuse to disbelieve the Scripture passages that seem to indicate that positions of leadership in the church should be held by males only.

This is a historic position held by the vast majority of Christian denominations worldwide, and only recently have activists begun to challenge it.

Anonymous said...

Just a few points:

First, I find Paul's comment interesting where he says, I permit not a woman. He never said God permits not a woman.

Second, having been in chuches where women are encouraged to be leaders vs. churches that don't accept it, I must say, I've seen God work very powerfully through the line of authority of male-headship and I happen not to be a traditional holiness or conservative believer. Were a woman positioned in a high level w/in the Wesleyan Church, headship, I believe, must be maintained in order to secure the power of God. That can be established several ways. One GS with Deputies. Personally, I believe one GS needs to spend his time seeking the face of God for the church vs. doing admin tasks and preaching. That is a Scriptural mandate for leadership.

Third, until the Wesleyan church has a woman who is "Spirit-endued, controlled, led, and can spew the heart of God continually" vs. "trained, talented, well-liked, and ambitious", they are fools to put a woman in a GS position. That is a receipe for the devil's brew. It is like praying from the head vs. praying from the heart (Madame Guyon).

Fourth, over time as leaders failed, God had to use others for His work/modify his original plan. For instance, Adam failed, so man tills the ground and we have all missed living in paradise every day. Abraham failed so now we have a daily battle between Ishmael and Isaac that has impacted the entire world. Because Adam failed, God gave Jesus.

My point, over time, God has had modify how He does His work because of man's sin. It is now obvious that male headship has contributed to much of the world's ills due to gross sin, intentional blindness and outright lust and selfishness. So, whether or not I'm right/wrong, one has to ask themselves, does God need to once again modify His plan?

To have a woman DS for the sake of being a progressive, all-inclusive church is a farce. To have a woman GS with a deep relationship with God that can't be ignored and needs to be used in such a position is a much different story.

There is a text that says to the pure all things are pure. There is also another text that says to the him that thinks something is sin, to him it is sin. And yet one more text, you need to consider the concerns of weaker brethren in making decisions. Which brother is weaker (the one who wants women leaders or the one who doesn't), that is for you to decide.

Personally, the heart I see in seeing for a woman GS is not to find the will of God but to be progressive. Are your motives pure?

The AJ Thomas said...

If you want to increase the number of Women who are actually making through school and into churches you have to stop dating on campus (in the case of BBC) or within the religion department (in the case of the other schools). I went through college with lots of women who claimed a call to ministry and some of whom (although noticeably less, same was true with the guys) also exhibited the "gifts and graces" for ministry.

Of the multitude of women I was trained with I can only identify one that is actively and fruitfully engaged in ministry at this time. She came to school with a boyfriend back home who wanted to be an engineer, got her degree, married the engineer and now is the assistant pastor of a really solid church. Most of the other women who made it through school married a guy who was planning to be a pastor and are now pastors wives.

Nothing wrong with being a pastors wife, I was raised by one and my wife is one, I think it can be a definite calling however it’s not the same as the calling to preach the gospel and the whole “we both are pastors” thing is cool if it can work but it is extremely rare. So the answer is simple – if you claim a call to ministry the DBMD reserves the right to forbid any dating relationship with another persona who’s calling is inconsistent with your own and if you desire to stay on the ordination track you break it off or you take some time to pray and figure out if you understand your calling properly.

dave warren said...

I do not believe the Nazarenes are doing any better than the Wesleyans on this topic, although I'd be a miss if I didn't point out we do have a wonderful lady as a G.S. On the flip side,though, I only know of 1 D.S. in the U.S. who is female. We do also have a female college president at Eastern, whom I believe is also an ordained elder. A.J. talked about marriage and what that does to a call. I know of three couples where both the wife and husband have a call to ministry. 1 couple are missionaries to Central America and they team preach. If you ever get the oppurtunity to hear them I'd recomment it. They do a wonderful job. They're names are Scott & Emily Armstrong. The other 2 couples both have ties to conservitive southern Indiana, one of these couple won the top preaching award at N.T.S. a couple of years ago, again preaching as a team and the other co-pastors in Southern Indiana and in our journal are listed as equals in pastoring in every aspect of ministry. You talk about bang for the bucks! Anyway I have to say we have some wonderful ladies in ministry, who no doubt are called, graced, and gifted for ministry. How can we do anything les than give them the oppurtunity to fulfill that call

Darlene Teague said...

I've been thinking about your post and some of the comments you've received. Thanks, Keith, for raising this issue and addressing it so well. I appreciate you! For the 20+ years I've known you, I've felt you were cheering me on in ministry.

I tried to think of a way to respond without sounding like an emotional female, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am an emotional female in regard to the issue of women in ministry. So, I decided to write as a Christian sister who God has called and the church has ordained to ministry.

I have a couple thoughts about the comments I've read. First, one of my pet peeves is a person who makes strong or critical statements but does not sign his name (or hers, for that matter).

Second, I wish there were a way for men to understand how it feels to be belittled because of gender. Too many males don't realize how degrading they are when they make comments about God using women because the men won't respond. They imply (or sometimes express) that women are second-best. God doesn't make anyone second-best. He created men and women equal.

While God equips people with different gifts and graces, He does not grant them based on gender. From the human perspective, opportunities to serve ARE based on gender. We're limiting the work of God by our discrimination. We're fighting among ourselves rather than presenting a united front against the devil.

As a woman who has tried to be faithful in fulfilling the call of God on my life, I have found that too much of my energy has been spent in defending my call and right to serve God. All I have ever desired is to do what God has directed me to do and serve Him with all my strength.

I have been thankful for the men who have encouraged my call and helped me serve more effectively. I have tried to respect those who hold different opinions about a woman in ministry while not being detered by them.

Do I want to see affirmative action for women in leadership roles? No. This issue is not about meeting quotas and finding token women to showcase. I do want to see ALL people who are qualified be given equal consideration and opportunity to minister in The Wesleyan Church.

Most of all, I want to see God's kingdom built up and strengthened. I want to see people becoming dedicated and discipled followers of Jesus. I long to see men and women called to serve the Lord in every capacity.

Darlene Teague

Anonymous said...

As for anonymous commentors, freedom is great! Only folks who need to judge a person need to know who wrote a comment vs. taking it at face value.

If feelings were hurt by truth, and everything that was stated was truth, then maybe you need to look at how you evaluate truth and take it personally.

There was no intent to degrade in that statement! Absolutely none.

The AJ Thomas said...

While I agree that anonymous commenters are chicken on a more pragmatic level it's confusing so at least make up an alias so we can tell how many different people "anonymous" is.

I'm glad I humored you - that's my aim whenever I'm saying something jokingly. I wasn't actually suggesting the DBMD approve marriages I was just having a little fun. I also wasn't saying that a pastors spouse had to be morally up to the task (although I think it's a good idea and the the hosea example is a bit rare and he wasn't formally ordained) I was talking about conflicting callings.

My actual point was if one spouse is "called" to be a missionary to India and one spouse is "called" to be a small town youth pastor here at home and both feel "called" to marry each other then somethings gotta give.

Left Coast Drury said...

I was wondering when Drury would get around to kick-starting this blog again.

First, I want thank Darlene for her perseverance. I believe that there are young woman pursuing their call today because of her example--not just an example of pursuing a ministry call--but by saying with firm graciousness, I should, can and will be ordained by my church to pursue this call.

Second, it is quite obvious that Mr. Anonymous (or possibly Ms. Anonymous) who is concerned with Drury's impure progressive motives is out of touch with reality in the Wesleyan Church. The woman Drury is saying will be elected GS at the next general conference is the equal or superior to any of the men in the Wesleyan church by any criteria.

As much as I personally like and appreciate the GSs who were at the '04 General Conference, given the chance, I would have voted for her and left one of them out. Alas, that's not how the TWC holds its elections. Regardless, being a radical conservative Republican from the South, the progressive aspects of electing that woman were no more than an amusing afterthought to me. Simply put, she has the gifts and graces to serve as GS and TWC will be lucky to get her. I am 'Hope'ful she lets her name run. If that's progressively impure--yum yum--give me more.

Third, I was recently talking to a female senior pastor in the Free Methodist church. We talked about how affirming her superintendent leadership was/is to women in ministry--almost cheer leading in a progressively impure way. When I asked her how many of her senior pastor peers were women, she reflected a moment and said--just me.

I think the only way this will change in a significant way is for male church leaders to be more than cheer leaders on the sidelines but to get in the game to advocate for these women with gifts and graces to be ordained and put into positions of leadership. If that is affirmative action (as repugnant that phrase is to my Republican sensibilities) then I am all for it.

Fourth, I appreciate the open discussion on women in ministry. I hope that Wesleyan elected officials and those allowing their names to be considered for elective office will not remain anonymous on this issue but openly address it in the lead-up to the next General Conference. I think that many delegates would consider this relevant in making an informed decision about who they will vote for.

Rev. Vaughn W. Thurston-Cox said...

Sorry. Needed to make some corrections.

Thank-you for continuing to bring this before the Church (Wesleyan, Free Methodist, and otherwise). It is so easy, sometimes, for us good old boys to banter the arguments we forget the faces, the lives our prejudice can destroy. My wife (One of your former students) is one of them.

I don't think the attitude will change, even in denomination which profess an egalitarian practice, until those of us in the pulpits are willing to proclaim a truly Kingdom Gospel, to risk with Jesus.

I personally challenge those who, on the one hand, affirm their vows as elders in the Wesleyan, Nazarene, and Free Methodist Church, and on the other discourage their sisters in Christ from pursuing the call to the order of elders. Any such elder should wholly confess their inability to live faithfully to their vows and seek their counsel. Dishonesty isn't a Kingdom life.

For those of us in the trenches I believe there is hope, because hope begins with us. We can afford opportunities for women to take leadership positions, preach, and even begin tracts towards ordination. We can be the hands and feet of Christ here.

So often Evangelicals lament that nothing should come between a sinner and their salvation. How many voices have we silenced that might otherwise have been God's voice to a church, a community, or even a nation?

PB said...

Keith, I don't know if you heard but we are now in The Salvation Army.
It has been the fulfillment of the longing we have felt to minister to the whole person. We are now able to help folks more fully (like my YFC background, we can minister spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc.)and we are finally able to work as a team!
For those who are not aware, in TSA, there are no dual-occupation couples. Either you are both full time ministers or neither of you are! I thank God that, from the beginning (1865) TSA has accepted men and women as clergy. In fact, General Booth once said "some of my best men are women" ... and we have had 2 female Generals!(who lead the worldwide work of TSA). Glad to find you via my google alert. Blessings! PB Stetser

Rev. Vaughn W. Thurston-Cox said...

I want to apologize for my appalling grammar. I won't repost. A lesson to us all about posting while drowsy.

Joseph W. Watkins said...

From - The Works of John Wesley Third Edition Complete and Unabridged Volume X "Letters, Essays, Dialogs, Addresses" Page 180

"In this there is a manifest difference: For the Apostle Paul saith expressly, "Let your women keep silence in the Churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the Church." (I Cor. xiv.34,25.)
Robert Barclay, indeed says, "Paul here only reproves the inconsiderate and talkative women."
But the text say no such thing. It evidently speaks of women in general.
Again: The Apostle Paul saith to Timothy, "Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. For I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man," (which public teaching necessarily implies,) "but to be in silence." (I Tim. ii. 11, 12.)
To this Robert Barclay makes only that harmless reply: "We think this is not anyways repugnant to this doctrine." Not repugnant to this, "I do suffer a woman to teach!" Then I know not what is.
"But Joel foretold, 'Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.' And 'Philip had four daughters which prophesied.' And the Apostle himself directs women to prophesy; only with their heads covered."
Very good. But how do you prove that prophesying in any of these places means preaching?"

Just an interesting aside to John Wesley's thoughts on this subject.

Amber Janelle said...

Coach,

Your voice on this issue has been one of the most helpful in my life--I know you know that. :) The ordination service this summer was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. As I was standing outside of the tabernacle with the group of men I was to be ordained with... I was thinking, "Am I really doing this? God, are YOU really doing this? If I run now, can I get away?" hehe. The service was beautiful, convicting, and affirming. When my D.S. looked down and referred to me as "Pastor Amber Livermore" and eventually "Reverend Livermore," my heart could have stopped. In that moment, all the struggles and wrestling of the past ten years of my life made sense. When the service was over, rather than feeling "victorious," I felt an extra weight of responsibility on my shoulders and as though my heart ached more strongly for the Church. I'm just excited to be in a position to serve in the Wesleyan Church! I only hope people continue to open the doors that enable me to stay in the denomination I love.

Randy said...

I'm intrigued by this topic and the comments. My great-grandmother was ordained in the Wes Meth Church, my life has been touched profoundly by women in ministry, and I serve in a ministry founded by a woman and led by women for most of its formative years.

As I've tried to understand it all several issues come to mind, placed in a list b/c...lists are easier!
1. The Biblical texts that suggest against the idea seem difficult to get around, not least "husband of one wife". I realize that hermeneutical issues come to bear, but it is valid to ask if they have the right basis.
2. B/c we do not have much of a metaphysic of the sexes we cannot move the discussion beyond the idea that "we are equal", forgetting (maybe) that this does not mean "we are the same." Perhaps a metaphysic of the sexes, unhindered by the brokenness that defines our understanding today, would suggest that indeed, the way things are is most soundly reflected in...dare it be thought -- male headship? Or female. The point is that egalitarian ideas may not, after all, accurately reflect reality. They are, to be sure, zeitgeist -- spirit of the age -- making them very hard to avoid as assumptions. And on this point we can surely be helped by more than a glance at the tradition.
3. It is curious that we seem to depart from any substantial Wesleyan "via media" on this, i.e., really more than a "middle way", but with few exceptions THE way of the church. Was the church wrong? Could be. Do we understand sexual issues better today? I would think not.
4. This issue forces the question of what it really means to be a pastor. I felt I understood this better when I read CS Lewis' demurring position on the matter. Yes, he was, like Wesley, an Anglican, with a stronger idea of priest than we seem to conceive of today -- pastor as go-between, mediary, and in that sense, little Christ. Lewis, like Sheldon van Auken later, worked from this point to say that it seemed invalid for a non-male to stand in the place of Christ -- in that sacramental, priestly place. Lewis meant to say, I think, that this is the way things are. It has nothing to do with demeaning women or honoring men. That said, perhaps a view of pastor that is weak in the area of priesthood -- as we have today -- more easily leaves room for women in that role. It seems true that the dominant view of our days dismisses any idea of dogma b/c, primarily, it is not subject to our own persuasions on the matter. I am suggesting this results from the existential air we breath that says "if my feelings and experience cannot countenance it, it probably cannot be true."
5. It is obvious that a great many women have gifts and graces that fit them for a variety of ministries within the church. I know one woman who was a far better preacher than her husband; he knew it, told her so, and loved to hear her preach. My wife and I have a good friend who greatly grieved over this matter, feeling she was called, but also feeling rebuffed. And we, of course, know many women in ministry and I would hope I show love and support. I'd just like to believe there is room for discussion on the matter that asks questions that go to being instead of doing. Is the being almost indiscernable. Maybe. It doesn't follow that we dismiss the question. Perhaps earlier folk knew something our cultural prejudice will not let us see.

I'll finish, finally, with this: My astute uncle asked me why I think there are not alot of women in theological studies and the ministry (I might have replied, a la GKC, that women are too good for the ministry). I said, "I think reality works itself out."

For what it is worth, that's my too many cents. Glad for some change back. Hoping I can learn better what's true on this whole matter.
RH

MCpastor said...

I wonder if we had put the same sort of emphasis in the Wesleyan Church on "passing on" the essence of holiness to the next generation rather than trying to play affirmative action for women over the last 20 years, would we have seen more effective ministry by men and women.

Women who are called by God should never be kept from ministry. I suppose that is true. But it is equally true that if I am called by God to ministry, no one can keep me from it. So I begin to wonder if all of the women who are called and can't fulfill it were really called to that post. Many a man was confused about where God wanted him.

I believe there are ministries that women can perform better than men. That is how they are made. I believe the same is true of men. But for some reason this "authority envy" has become front page news, and the biggest agenda for some who apparently care more about the gender of the next elected GS, rather than their spirituality.

The "emergent" Wesleyans crack me up at this point. If you were to look at how much time Paul, who was very forward-thinking, spends on this issue of "ecclesiatical affirmative action" compared to the "progressive" Wesleyans of today, I think it would be very disproportionate.

This is not an attack on women in ministry by any stretch. (I wish I had some more good, qualified, spirit-led, servant-hearted women to run with some of the ministry opportunities available in my church.) I think however, the Wesleyan movement has done more harm than good by dangling the "women in ministry" carrot too much without any idea where it would lead. I believe a lot of it is so that the Church can appear more mainstream.

It is not a knock to any man that he was not led to be shepherd of my flock. I never thought I was a second-class citizen when I was a worker in the fields of someone else's flock. But women who have been gifted toward ministry have had this senior pastoral position lifted up before their eyes as though it were the holy grail, "and maybe one day you can have that... when people see you as more than just a woman." What balderdash.

All ranting aside, I am glad the Wesleyan church gives called women and men the respect and honor they deserve. I just wish they would stop it with the gender-engineering. I have always believed, if God can't (or won't) put me where I think I should be (or want to be), I don't need to be there.

Bubba said...

I am wondering what all those important "McMinistry" positions McPastor needs spirit-led women for. Probably some plums like keeping the nursery, teaching children's church, coordinating the vital ministry of cooking meals and washing dishes for church potlucks--maybe a woman with sufficient gifts and graces could even answer phones and make copies in the church office without falling into that womanly sin of gossip...

McPastor's Wesleyan Baptist reasoning cracks me up. Imagine if he could have whipped that argument out 150 years ago--If God wants those slaves free--he'll set them free--no sense fighting over it--Que sera sera.

MCpastor said...

Hmmm... never really thought of any ministry as "plum". I am guessing someone who considers children's ministry, nursery, and washing dishes as "plum" probably doesn't have many children in children's church, babies in the nursery, or clean plates. Or I wonder if the people performing these ministries know they are doing "plum" work for God.

("Coordinating the vital cooking ministry of cooking meals and washing dishes for church potlucks." ??? What kind of a slap is that for Godly people like my grandmother who not only prepared food and washed dishes for potlucks, but also set up the tables, and put the chairs away for people who could find nothing better to do but sit around and pontificate (blog) about how bad things are in the church, and there isn't any room for women in ministry.)

You see, my take is that every ministry is valuable, not just the one that has Senior Pastor on the door. That isn't the end-all. And it shouldn't be portrayed as the place where people arrive when their ministry becomes valid.

Christy said...

If only everyone were as open to women as you are, Coach...

Who would have thought that a call to serve God would be called a sin because I'm female? If some one had told me it really was ok, if those I had admired and respected hadn't told me I was wrong - maybe I wouldn't be on the long-road around ministry that may eventually lead to a full-time position.

Jeffrey V. said...

Christy, I am sorry that you feel slighted. Those who feel differently about the ordination of women do so out of a sincere desire to follow Scripture and religious tradition, not in any way to throttle your aspirations or dreams.

In this post-Modern era, it has suddenly become OK for a woman to be a mechanic, a firefighter, a pastor, and even an infantryman in some countries. Some feel that it has gone too far and that somehow, we are missing out on the God-given roles that He has provided to men and women in society.

Of course, grievances such as yours are sad and unavoidable with much of society still unwilling to accept women pastors when give the choice. Yet, if you feel that this is God's path for you, ask Him to open the doors for you. If He does, plunge through. If He does not, I don't know what any of us can do for you. Force them open?

Lawrence W. Wilson said...

Keith ... as editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, I worked with Dr. Lee Haines on his (and his late wife Maxine's) project Celebrate Our Daughters, which is an exhaustive record of the women in ordained ministry in The Wesleyan Church and its antecedent bodies through 1968.

While there were hundreds of women's stories recorded, Dr. Haines pointed out that the practice of ordaining women has always met resitance, even within TWC. Typically, women were given ministry positions that no one else would or could fill (especially during wartime) or were allowed to do "pioneer work," i.e., church planting. When men became available for these positions, they were often appointed over the very women who had initiated the work.

The point: it is likely that women will not be given a warm invitation and hearty welcome into ordained ministry--they will have to make their own place, as many have already done.

Perhaps it is best to set aside attcking this problem institutionally--by asking for "law enforcement" of our policy of ordaining and promoting women in ministry--and attack it functionally--by women taking initiative to minister with or without the blessing of a district superintendent.

Keith Drury said...

Yeah Larry, a similar argument is made for Afro-Americans... e.g. "There will always be prejudice, just raise yourself up by your own bootstraps as many have done." It is an attractive answer because it shifts the blame from the institution to the victim of prejudice--"Just go plant your own church woman--don't expect the DS to try to get you a church job--people don't want women ministers".

I have made this argument with some woman actually, usually as a back-up-- i.e. "If the Wesleyans don't give you a church become a Methodist--they'll love you there and guarantee you a church." But I also have hope that institutional exclusion of women can be addressed. For instance, if we have a youth convention or denominational conference and offer no women preachers we are teaching something to our children--even if we say "there are no qualified women." (or even if the woman we got last time bombed--as at The Gathering). I don't mind training Wesleyan daughters for Methodist churches... but I rpefer to training Wesleyan daughters for Wesleyan churches...

keith

Lawrence W. Wilson said...

Keith ... Perhaps I shouldn't have said "abandon" the insitutional side. I would advocate a change in tactics there too.

This issue--like racism and abortion--is one that cannot be won intellectually. Nobody's mind is changed about abortion, for example, by appealing to Scritpure, scientific evidence, or logic. People respond to symbols like bloody coat hangers and the word "murder," but they don't listen to rational speech. Experience is the only effective persuader in these cases.

I see the same deadlock here. When we see women accomplishing something in ministry, culture will be changed. But haranguing DS's to "do their jobs right" simply will not work.

As for platforming women at major events, I agree that this is a valuable tactic. It is the difference between saying "Hey, why don't you promote women in leadership" and saying "Here's a leader."